The Lonely Planet of Parenting: How to be Comfortable in an Increasingly Uncomfortable World- Part 2
Parental loneliness is a stark reality today and judgement is a major contributing factor . Judgment is driving a wedge between friends, family, co-workers and even strangers. Judgement is slowly debilitating our sense of community.
We judge the decision makers, facts being presented, the actions others are or are not taking and worst of all, we are judging each other. Why are we doing this, you might wonder? When our own insecurities and doubt are high, we get a small amount of relief by judging and comparing ourselves to others.
This small reprieve costs us to lose people that we love or even people that could be part of our support system. Opportunities for increased support may be missed by judging prematurely. When we feel uncertainty and lack in our lives, we want to feel good and justified in what we are doing so we start looking for ways to pump ourselves up often at the expense of bringing others down. This is a human trait and we have all done it. But we need to learn that the true solution to feeling better is connecting with ourselves and feeling confident in our abilities and decision-making based on our personal needs and situations.
We all crave attention and recognition but the need to seek the approval of others to see our own worthiness is not sustainable and ultimately will not lead to happiness. We are never going to agree on everything as humans, but we can show compassion and understanding towards others and in turn receive the same energy back about our own decisions. You never know the circumstances that lead to another’s actions, or what might have happened the moment before to lead them to that decision. You might catch yourself saying, “can you believe that?” or, “I would never, do or say that?” Never say never; we do not know how we might feel or react to a situation until we experience it ourselves. This judgement continues to put space between us and others making us feel superior in some way. What will happen though when the tables are turned, and you are having a hard time and do something that is judged? You will feel lonely, isolated, and shameful when what you really need is someone to listen and support and show you compassion.
Judgements are particularly high during the pandemic about children returning to school. Parents are worrying about what is best for their kids and anxieties and judgements spread with the end goal of feeling justified by others in their decisions. Parents are angry, sad, and frightened by the fact that they must make this decision at all. If others agree with their decision, they will feel resolve and peace. They are worried that if they make the wrong decision, they will have to face shame and embarrassment.
The past has taught us that in our society that when we are wrong, we must suffer. We must feel bad because we did not get it right the first time. We should have known better and now we have failed. This notion needs to STOP! If we knew all the right answers from the beginning, what would be the point of living each day? Failing, screwing up, making choices that do not turn out, is the only way to learn. Imagine never feeling a sense of accomplishment again, never feeling proud of mastering a skill? It is part of our journey to figure out what works and what does not and if we never make a mistake then we have nothing left to figure out. How boring.
Lamenting the topic of living in uncertain times is growing in popularity, but we really need to think about that. Was life prior to the pandemic always predictable? Did we know what tomorrow was going to bring? Life is always going to challenge us and bring great mystery and we need to learn how to ease and flow with these changes otherwise we will drive ourselves crazy with stress and worry.
The best advice I have for parents right now is to listen to your gut. Your intuition knows what is right for you and your family. Justifying your feelings and decisions to anyone is not necessary. I have friends who have decided to keep their kids home and distance learn. This make them feel calm and safe and I support them. I have friends who have chosen to send their kids back to school and learn with their peers. They feel calm and safe because they know their child will follow safety precautions and enjoy the connection with others and I support them.
There is never a universal right answer for all in this world. There is only the right answer for you in every decision you make. Every time you make a wrong decision or one that did not turn out the way you hoped, it guides you back to where you need to be. We are all different for a reason and we can learn from one another and our shared experiences. Let us celebrate each other for the challenges we have overcome and the parents that we strive to be. Now more than ever, we need each other’s support, love, and kindness. Our community needs more listening and understanding to bring us together, and a lot less judgement.
This is the second part of a series designed to aid parents in developing a strong support community even when we can not physically be together. If we are open, honest, empathetic, and kind we can spread help to all in need and truly heal our mental health issues naturally instead of destroying our physical health with medications and stress. I would love to hear from you and have you join a life changing parenting community.